Families with infants and toddlers can connect with each other and learn about early childhood development at an event in Gainesville on Sept. 10.
The family listening session, hosted by the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, will feature an open discussion between parents about the challenges of raising toddlers, followed by a speaker who will teach parents about how infants learn.
The event is free, but families should sign up because seating is limited.
Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, will be speaking Sept. 10 at First Baptist Church Gainesville. Gopnik’s research focuses on how infants learn and gather information while they are playing. She has written several books on how children’s brains develop.
Vett Vandiver, director of communications for the alliance, said infants and toddlers are noticing and learning more than some people realize, so it is important to facilitate that process in a child’s early years. The first 2,000 days of a child’s life, or the approximate time between their birth and when they start school, are crucial, she said.
“Children are just picking up on so many things and the experiences that they go through matter so much because they’re taking notes. Whether we know it or not or they can talk back to us, they’re understanding everything around them,” she said. “It’s so critical that we’re creating these positive experiences … when they’re older, they’ll be able to communicate better and they’ll be able to handle things better.”
Before Gopnik speaks to parents, families can connect with each other in a roundtable discussion about parenthood and its challenges, part of the alliance’s efforts to connect with parents and local officials to meet families’ needs. Vandiver said the alliance wants to expand its reach outside metro Atlanta and learn what families are looking for in Gainesville. A similar family discussion in Gainesville was informative, she said.
“It gave parents the opportunity to talk about what it’s like to raise a young child in their county or in their city and maybe what resources are lacking,” Vandiver said. “… We heard from parents saying, ‘I wish there were more places with changing stations so when I go out somewhere I can change my baby and not use my car or use the ground.’ Some others said they wish there were more places they could breastfeed.”
The alliance is partnering with Zero to Three, a national organization that focuses on early childhood development, for the event. The United Way of Hall County and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning are also sponsoring.